“Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work’” (John 4:34).
From what brought nourishment to his life, we learn from Jesus what it is to live with a sense of vocation. While many pursue particular occupations, in the foolish belief that a job could offer a purposeful existence, only a vocation of faith can bring meaning and fulfillment to to any and every task. Occupations are one-dimensional; performed within an occupied workspace, for the purpose of gaining a paycheck from the organization that hired you to do a specific task. To have a sense of vocation, however, is to understand that the call of Christ leaves no facet of life untouched by his Lordship. Only by doing all things unto the Lord, and not as unto men, can even the most menial task become a meaningful platform for showcasing the fruit of the Spirit.
“But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil” (Hebrews 5:14).
The statements are sometimes made, “I want to go deeper into the word” or “I need a meatier bible study.” Such words reflect not only a spiritual arrogance, but also an ignorance of scripture’s intent, which is a transformed life. It matters little how much of it you know if it’s not impacting what you do with the time, energy, and resources entrusted to you. The richness, breadth, and depth of the sacred text is discovered not in another bible study, but the practice and the pursuit of the life of Christ found therein. Engage your faith at the daily intersections of human brokenness and God’s word will come alive in a way it never could in a classroom.
“All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him” (Isaiah 53:6).
The human condition is universal; none of us are born knowing our way. Because we have no natural, internal compass directing us to eternal life, we are left to turn any number of ways that may seem right but their end is death. Yet, while we have all gone astray, the Lord’s sacrificial death was sufficient to bear the sins of us all. Thanks be to God! This is but another argument against a currently popular western theological thought holding to a belief that God’s salvation is a predetermined condition that exists for some but not others. For the sake of consistency these, then, must also embrace a position that only some, and not all, are lost and have gone astray. It’s only as we accept the fact that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” that any one of us can possibly find His way.
“I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one” (John 17:15).
In the struggle against principalities and powers, many within the church become fearful and insular; they entrench, dig in; embracing a timid defensive posture. It is a response Jesus never intended from his church. Fear is best faced in the field of battle not in the sanctuary of cowardice. The church is on the offensive; fueled by a Great Commission that has deemed the world our field.
“You are those who have stood by Me in My trials; and just as My Father has granted Me a kingdom, I grant you” (Luke 22:28-29).
The metaphor of family is the most prevalent imagery within scripture for those who would be the people of God. Besides standing together in times of hardship, Jesus says they sit at a common table (v.30), and are heirs of a coming inheritance (Eph.1:11; Rom.8:17). Biblical discipleship immerses itself into a local community of believers, embracing the kinship of family, and the accompanying highs and lows found therein. Join in with the attitude of a consumer, and you will always be an outsider; searching unceasingly for that which satisfies your individual desires. The self-indulgent, who want only to be indulged here and now, will soon miss out on the sacred reward to be received by all who served well.
“For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves” (Luke 22:27).
Having stated that kingdom greatness is achieved when you take on the status of a servant, and become as the youngest (v.26), Jesus now offers himself as the example to be pursued. His is a model of success antithetical to any standard of measure by which this world measures success. Instead of giving you a title to satisfy your ego, he offers you a towel to serve others.
“And He said to them, ‘The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and this have authority over them are called ‘Benefactors’’” (Luke 22:25).
That the disciples are arguing over which of them is the greatest (v.24), reflects a perspective on life driven by secularism; that is, a world void of God. They have failed to recognize that the human quest for power and titles oppresses others and brings them into subjugation. Sadly, those who attain such lofty places, we reward and even participate in the masking of their tyranny with honorary titles such as “benefactor,” and all the while perpetuating their influence over us. As the Good Shepherd, responsible for the well-being of the sheep, Jesus does not accommodate their desires but corrects them; that they might receive what they need to be effective disciples. When you go to church, do you go longing for correction or hoping for accommodation? It’s the difference between discipleship and secularism.
“And there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest” (Luke 22:24).
They have been discipled three years by the Master Teacher, himself, and have heard the teachings that his kingdom is not of this world. Even so, the argument among the disciples reveals they still cling to a belief that this world can be owned, and only those in positions of power can lay claim to it. Knowing that all things in heaven and earth belong to the Lord (Deuteronomy 10:14), for anyone to believe they can own anything is a purely secular notion. For our time here, we are just stewards and trustees (Leviticus 25:23).
“And they began to discuss among themselves which one of them it might be who was going to do this thing” (Luke 22:23).
News that the hand of the betrayer was with Jesus at the table (v.21) must have been a shock to the disciples. Though Judas would become one of the most despised names in history, the actions of the other disciples over the coming hours would provide a more comprehensive truth—betrayal has many names and faces. While every disciple betrays Jesus in myriad ways, it’s such as these that become the most effective messengers of a merciful redemption. Those who realize they are but products of God’s grace are, themselves, more gracious toward others.
“Beloved, you are acting faithfully in whatever you accomplish for the brethren, and especially when they are strangers” (3 John 1:6).
Acting for the benefit of those with whom we are familiar and have a relationship is normal and even expected. The life and teachings of Jesus, however, as well as the inspired writings of the apostles, indicate that a greater degree of faithfulness is revealed in our actions towards those who are strangers; those outside our normal context of association. How long, and often, must we hear it to know that true faithfulness isn’t our perfunctory religious performances but our practices toward others.